Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
Do witches have the capacity to kill people? Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan has come to "kill, steal, and destroy." I take that to mean that under certain conditions, empowered by Satan or one of his demons, people can be killed by witches. Is that right? Can people be killed by witches?
The answer to your question, I really don’t know. But, I’ll tell you story that may give some insight.
I once had a woman come to my office and tell me that demons were trying to kill her. She was terrified. The most I knew how to do, then, was to say a prayer for her protection.
The next morning, she slipped in the shower, hit her head on the tile, and died. I did her funeral three days later.
God takes witchcraft very seriously. The penalty for practicing witchcraft under the Mosaic Law was death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27). There are only two sources of spiritual power: God and Satan. Satan has only the power that God allows him to have, but it is considerable (Job 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:2).
However, remember God’s power can overcome any attempt of the Evil One to destroy us. That’s what John 10:10 is about.
I’d like to use part of your question and put John 10:10 about abundant living into proper perspective.
Many people base the idea that Satan can kill people on John 10:10.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and life more abundant.”
It seems obvious that the thief is Satan and that he can kill people. But this verse has very little to do with killing people. It has everything to do with abundant life.
In the context of abundant life, Satan comes not to kill people, but to “kill, steal and destroy,” our abundant life.
How does he do this? By keeping us from living in the present.
David Ferguson from Great Commandment Ministries has a useful model.
Imagine a straight, horizontal time line about two feet long. In your mind, put a small X in the middle of the line and we will call that point the “Present.”
To the left of “Present,” imagine the word “Past,” and to the right of the line imagine the word “Future.”
We can only enjoy abundant life in the present.
We might have enjoyed some abundant life in the past, but when we experienced it, that was our present.
We may experience more abundant life somewhere out in the future, but when we do, that future time will be our present.
If Satan can keep us bound up with worry, fear, and anxiety about the future, can you imagine that he just might have stolen our present abundant life?
If Satan can keep us bound up with guilt, regret, hurt, anger and bitterness about our past, can you imagine that he just might have stolen away our present abundant life?
The key to abundant living is to live in the present. Too many of us are ruining our abundant life by dragging our future into our present. We have just destroyed our abundant life.
While there are times when Satan may “kill, steal, and destroy” our abundant life, we are perfectly able of doing it to ourselves.
David wrote in Psalm 131: “I have called and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast, like a child that is quieted is my soul“ (RSV).
David must have had many things in his past and future which could ruin his abundant life. But notice that his choice to stop the raging agonies of his mind was the key to his enjoying abundant life.
So, Vincent, let me share with you:
Intentional Strategies That Help Us Live in the Present and Thus Enjoy Abundant Life
1. Take every thought captive. Refuse to let your mind dwell on the past or the future.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
As far as I’m concerned, taking thoughts captive is the most important strategy of all.
Personally, when I find myself struggling with the past and future, I say “switch” or “stop it” to capture the thought, thus regaining control and stymieing any profitable thoughts.
2. Focus on biblical passages of peace.
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
“Fret not —it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8).
“I’ve learned to be content in all things because Jesus Christ pours in the power” (Philippians 4:10-13 RLB).
Psalm 23: Meditate on Jesus as your Shepherd.
3. Practice quieting your mind.
Even when you’re feeling great, practicing quieting your mind will strengthen you for your next bout.
4. Engage in spiritual warfare if needed.
Jesus told us clearly that Satan is involved in this process.
“Submit to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against… the rulers of the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth… the breastplate of righteousness… and the gospel of peace.
“In addition, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
5. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, get medical attention.
After all, if our blood pressure is high we our feel that there’s nothing wrong with taking blood pressure medicine. If we have a headache, we take aspirin. If our thyroid is not producing properly, we take thyroid medicine to help it. It’s no fun living in misery.
6. Consciously plug into the life of the Holy Spirit.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
When we become Christians we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit himself. Walking in the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit means living a pure and holy life and carefully following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Well, Vincent, I wish I had more to say about witches killing people. However, I hope my tangential approach of using your question about John 10:10 in order to focus on abundant life will be helpful to you and others.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Publication date: October 20, 2016